Here is the fourth and final in our series of four advanced exercises to improve strength, power, and endurance to get ready for the slopes.
These four exercises continue to target primary leg muscles used in skiing and snowboarding (your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip abductors) with a conscious effort to focus on exercises that could be easily performed in the home with no equipment.
The advanced four exercises do require enough room to execute, so please take a moment to find a place in your home where there is a more significant amount of space free, or move some furniture around to make room. Check to make sure the ceiling is not too low if you are in your basement.
Again, before you start any exercise program make sure you are healthy enough to start it safely. If you have any questions, doubts or any medical condition you should check with your MD first before beginning.
Burpees: The fourth exercise is burpees. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes in that it effectively targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluts dynamically just like descending the uneven hills. Additionally, it will target your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles which will help you push yourself back up from the slope in the event you have fallen.
The Set Up: Find an open area in your home to accommodate this exercise, preferably in an area with enough space to accommodate variations in your jumping and landing. Extra space is required for this training so make sure the open space is long/wide enough for you to lie down flat. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
The Exercise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart (start/end position) toes parallel to each other pointing forward. You are going to slowly bend your knees to lower your body into a squat position; back flat, butt sticking out behind you, hips bent. At the same time gradually bring both of your arms back behind your fingers pointing towards the ground.
Once you lower your body down as far as you can while maintaining proper form, you should pause before swinging your arms forward in front of your body towards the ceiling as you jump as high as you can in one motion, both arms and legs going at the same time. You want to land on your toes while maintaining your feet shoulder length apart and immediately bend your knees to absorb your landing.
From there, you want to immediately reach down to the ground to place where outstretched arms into a push up position while simultaneously kicking both of your legs behind you to land in a high plank position (think of being at the top of a push up—arms slightly wider than shoulder width, elbows extended, hand on the floor under your shoulders, back straight and flat, glutes tight, hips and knees locked straight with your toes on the ground about shoulder width apart).
From this position, you are going to lower your body down to perform one push up. Upon returning to the high plank position you will jump both of your feet underneath you, bringing your head and shoulders up, rocking up towards the original loaded squat position where you will finish the rep off by again swinging your arms forward in front of your body towards the ceiling as you jump as high as you can in one motion, both arms and legs going at the same time landing on your toes with your knees slightly bent to absorb the landing. That is one rep. Perform ten times to make one set. Try to perform three sets of 10 reps.
The Cues: Some things to watch out for:
1) You must maintain a straight line from your hip to your knee to your foot. Do not allow your knees to go in towards each other, or your hip to stick out to the side especially when landing or jumping up as these two times require the most significant force production in your legs. Be mindful or your knee position when jumping your legs backward to the high plank position and again to get them underneath you again, many people will tend to flare their knees out during these phases.
2) Hinge at your hips to ensure a flat back to maintain good posture.
3) Keep your butt back to prevent loading the knees when going into the squat.
4) Keep your knees ‘soft’ when landing. This means your legs should not be held rigid or straight on landing but that you should immediately absorb the landing and be in control back to the start/end position. Think of your legs like a spring that needs to be loaded (when you absorb the landing and squat down) before springing up into the air (when you jump back up).
5). Depending on your ceiling height you may not be able to swing your outstretched arms overhead. In that case, keep your elbows bent and rotate them to shoulder height while jumping instead of overhead.
6). Maintain tight gluten during the plank and subsequent push up to not lift your butt to the ceiling or allow your low back to sag to the floor.
7). Keep your hands under your shoulders for greater stability when performing the push-up.
The Mods: Some modifications you can use to reduce/progress the exercise.
1) Change the jump height. If this exercise is challenging, in the beginning, a quick modification would be not to jump as high to decrease the force production and maintain better control/form on the landing. Attempt a distance that makes you feel like you’re working but not so high that you feel pain.
2) Stand and rest between each rep of the set. This will allow you time to ensure you are in proper setup form before each rep.
3). Do not jump at the end of the exercise, instead just stand up.
4) Change the depth of the push-up. If the push up is too challenging, just do not lower yourself as far or just maintain a high plank without performing a push up in the beginning until you get stronger.
5). To make the exercise more challenging you can attempt to jump as high as possible, the higher you jump, the higher power and control you will need.
6) Link your Burpees. Instead of pausing after each rep you can immediately drop back into the high plank position after performing the jump squat, turning the exercise into one constant fluid arc of motion throughout the ten reps.
7) To make the push up harder you can place a rolled up towel on the floor and make your chest hit the towel with each push-up.
The Issues: There are a variety of issues that people can experience with this exercise, but a few of the more common are:
Weakness in the hips can contribute to the knees pointing in and creating more pain on the inside of the knee.
Weak hip muscles will also allow the hip to shoot out to the side.
Weak quadriceps can increase pain and pressure along the knee cap into the patella tendon just below the knee.
Decreased mobility in the ankles can lead to all 3 of the aforementioned issues.
Ankle instability can lead to unevenness when landing which could contribute to rolling the ankle.
Weak core and glut muscles will increase the stress through the trunk and lower back to maintain proper plank position.
Tricep and chest weakness can limit the ability to perform a push up with good form.
If you are having difficulty figuring this exercise out or are experiencing pain that you would describe as being more than just out of shape give us a call, and we can give you a free screening to see if there are some underlying muscle imbalances that may be contributing to your issues as well as further education to make sure you are performing the exercise correctly.
Thank you for reading weekly in our Getting Ready for Skiing and Snowboarding: Exercises and Tips Blog Series!